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Former Everlane Employees Are Calling For A Boycott After Speaking Out About Workplace Racism

"A white man finally saying that a racist and white supremacist workplace culture starts with him is nothing to congratulate. Nor is it a radical statement."

Posted on June 30, 2020, at 4:18 p.m. ET

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Former employees of Everlane are calling for a boycott of the clothing retailer after speaking out about a culture of workplace racism amid a nationwide reckoning on the treatment of Black people and communities of color.

In response to an apology issued late Sunday by founder and CEO Michael Preysman, the former employees, who call themselves the Ex-Wives Club, posted a new statement with the #BoycottEverlane hashtag. They said the company's response doesn't go nearly far enough to correct the anti-Black behavior they experienced while working there.

"A white man finally saying that a racist and white supremacist workplace culture starts with him is nothing to congratulate," the club said in an Instagram post on Monday night. "Nor is it a radical statement."

Last week, members of the group โ€” which includes Black, POC, and "white allied" employees who worked across all departments from 2012 until recently โ€” described their experiences and outlined a set of demands in a public Google Doc titled "Everlane's Convenient Transparency," a nod to the company's "radical transparency" tagline.

From being paid less than their white counterparts to having their ideas dismissed โ€” or even stolen โ€” and being berated for calling out the brand's lack of diversity, the former employees said the San Franciscoโ€“based company is rife with racist behaviors.

"Everlane broke us," the document read. "Our spirit, our bodies, and our ideas were considered for their cache and cultural value. Our psyche was manipulated to fall in line with a greenwashed version of sustainability as we ourselves worked unsustainably just to be seen and acknowledged for our contributions while watching our white counterparts advance."

Among a detailed list of steps, the group asked that the company issue public apologies acknowledging how the brand "has benefited from systemic racism," hire Black executives, implement anti-racism training, and outline steps to retain BIPOC employees and create spaces for them to voice their concerns.

The company initially responded by posting an apology to its Instagram stories, saying it would be "bringing in independent third parties to both investigate each issue and ensure [it's] building an actively diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment in the future."

Then, on Sunday night, the company posted a note from Preysman, who said Everlane was implementing anti-racism training starting this week with the leadership team, reviewing employees' pay to ensure people are paid equally, and developing a code of conduct that includes anti-racism, among other things.

Founded in 2010, Everlane was for many years an online-only fashion retailer known for its minimal aesthetic and "radical transparency" about its manufacturing process. The company opened a few physical stores in recent years to reach more customers.

Last year, the retailer came under fire for not stocking extended sizes in its stores. A few months ago, the company laid off dozens of consumer experience employees days after workers asked Preysman to voluntarily recognize their union โ€” a move that they said was retaliation for organizing.

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Michael Preysman attends the 71st annual Parsons Benefit, May 20, 2019.

The Ex-Wives Club said it isn't affiliated with the union; however, the group supports the union's efforts.

In an email to BuzzFeed News, the group said that working at Everlane "sharpened our eyes for evaluating racial, environmental, and social ethics of current and future employers."

"We want to work for and shape companies who continuously ask questions, learn from mistakes and are fully invested in the values they espouse, not just a return on investment or surface level engagement," the club said, adding that working for Everlane was traumatizing and made them feel "deeply undervalued."

The group added in the email, "Being underpaid has had financial repercussions on our careersโ€”we had so many set-backs including taking years to actually catch up to the rates we deserve to be paid."

In its call to boycott the retailer, the group also cast doubt over the efficacy of the company's plans to root out racism without any changes in leadership.

"Without change on the leadership level, who can you trust to enforce the Code of Conduct," the group wrote in its Instagram post. "How can problematic leadership authentically create retention guides? Without dedication to hiring diverse leaders, there is no incentive for Everlane to follow through."

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